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  • jennevadomski

Dealing with Infertility   

 

After my first pregnancy loss back in 2001, I was devastated.  I had an ectopic pregnancy, which is when the embryo implants somewhere other than the uterus, in my case, the fallopian tube.  I not only lost my baby, but went for emergency surgery and had my left tube removed.  It was a double slam.

 

I did not have the greatest support in my husband, and it seemed that no one close to me had gone through any loss, nor did they know how to speak to me and deal with my emotions.  I felt so alone and depressed, unsure of what was going on with my body and why.

 

Only two months later, I became pregnant again, but when at twelve weeks, I was devastated a second time to learn at a routine doctor’s appointment that the baby had no heartbeat.  Again I was in the hospital, this time for a D&C, and again I was in a whirlwind of emotions with no outlet to vent, grieve, or ask questions.

 

A chaplain was sent in to speak to me, which was the first time anyone really allowed me to discuss and validate what I was feeling.  She offered to have me come to the next bereaved parents support group, for parents who have lost a child through pregnancy or neonatal loss.  I asked my husband to join me, and although he came to the first one (and hardly said a word); I went to a few more by myself.

 

I was fortunate to go on and have a healthy baby girl about a year later, and although my daughter is now seven and a joy, the marriage between her father and I did not last much longer.  Although there were other intrinsic problems in our marriage, one of the biggest things I could not accept was not only how he and I not only did not see eye to eye on our losses, but also because he was very harsh and cruel during one of the worst times of my life. 

 

I went on to return to school for my Master of Science degree in Counseling.  My primary reason (other than wanting to be able to provide for my daughter and myself with a strong career) for becoming a counselor was to work with women, couples and families through infertility issues, pregnancy loss and neonatal death.  Although my specialty is broader, specifically Marriage and Family therapy in general, I work with couples and families on multiple aspects of relationships and marriages.  Nevertheless, my passion has always been with pregnancy loss and infertility.  I later went on to write a book about my experience through pregnancy loss (and later updated it to reflect my divorce, subsequent marriage and issues with secondary fertility) and had it published.  It is called Becoming A Mother: Ectopic Pregnancy, Miscarriage, Infertility, Relationships, And My Bumpy Road To Motherhood.

 

Among the things I share with my clients, possibly the most important message I can give anyone dealing with primary or secondary fertility (the inability to conceive or carry a pregnancy to term after successfully conceiving one or more children) and / or pregnancy loss is to be a self-advocate for your medical care (or the care of your partner).  I cannot stress enough how important it is to keep track of your menstrual cycles, any cyclic symptoms you may have, and possibly even charting what is going on with your body during the month.  There are tons of books available to help you decipher what may be going on, and the one I always refer to is Taking Charge of Your Fertility by Toni Weschler.  And on trips to your Ob/Gyn’s office, remember to share your findings from “being aware” of your body and keeping track of what you see is going on.  A good doctor will take your lead by the information you share with him or her and order the diagnostic tests to follow through with any hunch you may have.  He or she will work in collaboration with you, not in authority of you, to help diagnose any problems that might be causing the issues.

 

It is also important that your partner be tested as well.  Many men shy away from the idea that they might be the one with the problem because of the “manly man” macho factor, but he’ll learn to get over it.  Also, some men do not like the idea of having to submit a sperm sample (and usually the means to submit it are a bit intimidating).  However, consider the diagnostic tests the female needs to go through and he should be willing to submit that sperm sample for the good of your family.

 

Although my first marriage was an extreme situation, it is more often than not the case that one partner does not express their grieving or pain at the same level as the other partner.  Usually with infertility and pregnancy loss, the female is more apt to grieve out loud, and sometimes feels that her partner does not care.  And the male is trying to keep it together for his partner, trying to remain strong for the both of them, and as a result he is holding back his grief for what he feels is the best for the pair.  Maintain an open line of communication with your partner and express your feelings, keeping in mind that the both of you are in this together, even though you might not express it in the same manner.

 

When my current husband and I were dealing with secondary infertility, I was not alone.  We both went through every appointment together; we both discussed our concerns, feelings, thoughts, and fears together.  When I would get my period each month, he would allow me five minutes to cry in his arms and he would be supportive of my emotions.  I would then be able to move on, with him, and make our next move together.

 

Then of course there is the financial difficulties involved with infertility and pregnancy loss.  The diagnostic tests, treatment, procedures and medicines are often not 100% covered by insurance, and the bills can become astronomical.  Again, maintaining an open line of communication and a plan of action will help to avoid marital issues that might evolve over the stresses of dealing with finances as this already stressful time.

 

Discussing an alternate plan or a time that you will take a break or stop trying to become pregnant or trying again after a loss is something you need to consistently do in the partnership.  The health of both partners (mentally as well as physically) is something that needs to be considered, along with the financial limits and other important factors when dealing with infertility and loss. 

 

If you are dealing with secondary infertility, the health and well-being of the children you may already have is something else you might need to keep in mind.  And if the child is older, he or she may understand to some extent what is going on, having his or her own issues, and needing the support of his parents at this time as well.  Remember, stress in a marriage is always reflected in the children.

 

Whatever issues or concerns you may be having, not only should you feel comfortable speaking about them with your partner, but you should consider seeking out a support group or counselor to speak with.  There are even random groups of women online who chat about various issues they are going through that are more than happy to welcome someone new who needs support and guidance.  Sometimes all you may need to feel just a little bit better is someone to lend an ear, and there are plenty of “someones” out there who can understand what you are going through.

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